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Steffen Angenendt, June 2014

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Policy Brief
The Migration Strategy Group on Global Competitiveness (MSG) was launched by the German Marshall Fund
of the United States (GMF) and the Robert Bosch Stiftung in 2013. The Migration Strategy Group brings together
key policy-stakeholders and decision-makers from the public and private sector, across different ministries and
political departments from migrant-sending and receiving countries on both sides of the Atlantic. The aim is to
develop a common understanding of designing and implementing coherent policies that unlock the full potential
of migration. It is based on the premise that demographic change, growing global competition for an increasingly
mobile workforce, and development of migrant-sending countries demand holistic and attractive migration and
integration policies that create triple win situations (for the receiving country, the sending country, and the mi-
grant). In 2013-2014, the activities of the Migration Strategy Group will focus on a case study for potential triple
win labor migration frameworks between Germany and Morocco.
Activities include regular interdisciplinary working group meetings for policymakers, issue experts, and private
sector representatives assessing current labor migration frameworks, and the strengths, weaknesses, and trans-
ferability of concrete triple win policy models and case studies; study tours for relevant stakeholders to gain
rst-hand experience of migration and development issues in migrant sending countries; publication of policy
briefs by senior advisors to provide an analytical framework for policy experts and decision-makers; and a plenary
workshop to summarize ndings and share insights more broadly and feed into other policy fora like the Global
Forum on Migration and Development.
In its rst year, the Migration Strategy Group is chaired by Tobias Billstrm, minister for migration and asylum
policy in Sweden and current chair of the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD). Senior advisors are
Steffen Angenendt, senior associate at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs, and Tamar
Jacoby, president and CEO of ImmigrationWorks USA. Associated Advisors are Manjula Luthria and Yann Pouget
at The World Bank, Center for Mediterranean Integration (CMI) and Michael Clemens at the Center for Global
The project is coordinated by Astrid Ziebarth, director for migration & society, and Jessica Bither, program
coordinator, at GMF, and Ottilie Blz, head of section society and culture, and Melanie Dense, program ofcer, at
the Robert Bosch Stiftung.
1. Executive summary 04
2. Introduction 04
3. Background 05
4. The Concept and Potential of Mobility Partnerships 05
5. Recent Experiences and Challenges 07
6. Moving Forward: Suggestions for Improvement 08
7. Outlook and Policy Recommendations 09
Steffen Angenendt is a senior associate at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs. The
opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reect the positions of the German
Marshall Fund nor the Robert Bosch Stiftung.
In 2005, the EU launched the Global Approach to Migration as an overarching frame-
work to foster a common and comprehensive European migration policy. Within this
framework, Mobility Partnerships between EU member states and third countries are
supposed to better link migration and development and to foster a more efcient and
coherent EU policy. The European Commission considers Mobility Partnerships to be
the most comprehensive instrument for managing migration relations between the EU
and third countries in its neighborhood. This brief describes this instrument and its
background, critically reviews the experiences with currently running pilot partnerships,
draws conclusions, and provides recommendations for further political action.
In 2005, the Council of the European Union launched the
Global Approach on Migration (GAM) as both an overar-
ching framework for the external dimension of EU migra-
tion policy and to foster a common and comprehensive
policy among EU member states. Its aim was not only to
reduce irregular migration, but also to strengthen dura-
ble solutions for refugees, and build capacities to better
manage legal migration. In 2011, development aspects
were included, and the approach became the Global Ap-
proach to Migration and Mobility (gamm). This extended
concept is designed to support a coherent EU migration
policy in four main areas: 1) management of legal migra-
tion, 2) reduction of irregular migration, 3) strengthen-
ing of the migration-development nexus, and 4) support
of the international system of refugee protection.
In May 2007, the European Commission introduced the
concept of Mobility Partnerships as the most innovative
and sophisticated tool of the Global Approach. Accord-
ing to the Commission, these exible partnerships will
play a key role in future EU migration policy. They are in-
tended to ensure greater policy coherence, to strengthen
the external dimension of migration policy, and to create
triple-win situations by offering legal opportunities to
migrants, supporting the development of countries of or-
igin, and supplying EU member states with much needed
skilled labor. Mobility partnerships have thus far been
established with Cape Verde, Moldova, Georgia, Armenia,
Morocco, Azerbaijan, and Tunisia, and new partnerships
are currently under negotiation.
The growing use of these partnerships provides an op-
portunity to take a critical look at this instrument. Are
the EU Commissions high hopes and expectations jus-
tied? Which objectives do these partnerships seek to
achieve? And what lessons can be drawn from assessing
the existing pilot partnerships for future Mobility Part-
In order to better understand the gamm and the Mobility
Partnerships, it is necessary to review the driving forces
behind these new approaches. Overall, three main drivers
can be identied:
First, the size and structure of international
migration has shifted. EU countries have to cope
with an increase in temporary and circular migration
at the expense of permanent migration, a further
increase of South-North migration ows, and a
continued mixing of voluntary and forced migration,
making migration policy and refugee policy even
more complicated than in the past. These trends in
international migration impose new or altered policy
Second, the political and public debate on migrati-
on and development has changed. For many deca-
des the assessment of the migration/development
nexus and the development policy debate in ge-
neral has repeatedly oscillated between optimism
and pessimism, whereby critical prognoses generally
outweighed the optimistic ones, stressing the risks
of migration, for example with regard to brain drain.
The contribution of migration to development was
considered low to negligible, and migrants were not
perceived as important development agents in their
own right. As knowledge on this issue has improved,
assessments have changed. Today, a more nuanced
understanding of the impact of migration prevails,
and appreciation of migration as a development tool
has increased.
Third, as far as migration policies are concerned,
EU member states are increasingly facing a dead-
lock. The current cooperation with source and transit
countries seems to have reached its limits, because
partner countries are less willing than in the past to
primarily serve the migration policy interests of the
EU states. Over the past decade, the EU countries
mainly sought to involve third countries in order to
better restrict immigration. Without greater atten-
tion to the migration policy interests of the partner
countries, such as mobility facilitation and the bene-
ts of migration cooperation for their domestic de-
velopment, effective migration cooperation will not
be possible. Therefore, new and more comprehensive
forms of migration cooperation must be developed.
All in all, these migration trends, political challenges, and
institutional settings can be expected to further boost
EU member states interest in Mobility Partnerships as
they promise a chance to better cope with the highly dis-
parate national migration policy agendas in EU member
states. There are still signicant differences in national
migration patterns, size and structure of ows, the eco-
nomic and demographic demand of migrants, and policy
approaches, especially in the eld of social and economic
integration of immigrants. Hence, a exible instrument
could be increasingly attractive to EU member states.
But does the current concept of Mobility Partnerships
measure up to the high expectations expressed by the
EU, especially with regard to developing a more coherent
migration and asylum policy?
In general, the concept of EU Mobility Partnerships fore-
sees obligations for both the respective partner coun-
tries as well as for participating EU member states. The
partner countrys government is expected to undertake
substantial efforts to prevent irregular migration to the
EU. It is supposed to readmit its own nationals as well as
third-country nationals who have used the partner coun-
try as a transit country (so called readmission clauses).
The partner country is expected to carry out information
campaigns to discourage irregular migration and to im-
prove border controls, particularly through closer coop-
eration with Frontex, the European border agency. It is
further expected to improve the security of travel doc-
uments, ght smuggling and human trafcking, and to
actively reduce migration push-factors by improving the
countrys economic and social conditions.
With regard to EU member states and the European
Union, the catalogue of possible obligations and con-
tributions is even more differentiated and covers four
The rst area is that of legal migration, which includes
both labor migration and migration for study and train-
ing purposes. With regard to labor migration, member
states must prioritize workers from other EU countries.
In this context, Mobility Partnerships result in two spe-
cic avenues for legal immigration: First, a number of
member states can submit a joint-offer for employment-
related immigration from a particular partner country.
This may involve a consolidated EU offer of national em-
ployment quotas for migrants from this country, but also
a coordination of labor demand and supply (matching).
Second, the Mobility Partnership can provide favorable
entry conditions for labor migrants from that country.
However, existing agreements, such as the Association
Agreement between the EU and Turkey, which prioritizes
Turkish workers, must also be observed.
The second area is migration management: With respect
to immigration to the EU, the member states and the
Commission can provide government or non-government
agencies in the partner countries with information about
the labor demand of participating EU countries. In this
regard, they can for example establish a joint cross-bor-
der job placement service, foster the reintegration of
returning migrants and reduce the costs of remittances.
In addition, EU countries can assist the partner countries
in better managing their own inows. Many potential
Mobility Partnership countries record considerable immi-
gration themselves, and their governments and admin-
istrations are often overwhelmed with managing these
ows. As this also affects the ability of these countries to
implement a Mobility Partnership, assistance in manag-
ing these inows can be offered.
The third area concerns preventing brain drain. As this
is considered one of the Mobility Partnerships main de-
velopment goals, the EU Commission suggests that mi-
grants with occupations for which there is a shortage
in the partner country should not be actively recruited.
In addition, the Commission proposes that EU govern-
ments should establish incentives for voluntary return
or support immigrants who intend to return to their
home countries. To fully promote the development im-
pacts of migration, the EU Commission proposes to foster
circular migration schemes. The 2007 EU Commissions
communication on circular migration made particularly
clear how important this type of migration is considered.
The underlying assumption is that migration schemes
that allow for a certain degree of legal mobility (return)
between two countries which is the Commissions
understanding of circular migration would offer an
opportunity to use the knowledge and the networks of
migrants to foster domestic development. A legal frame-
work for circular migration has already been set, espe-
cially through the EU Commissions 2005 Policy Plan on
Legal Migration, introducing a common residence and
work permit and prescribed equal treatment of foreign
workers on labor, social, and education matters.
Finally, a fourth area of Mobility Partnerships concerns
the issuing of visas. Even if often regarded as a mere
technical process with little political importance, the EU
Commission has become aware of the political character
of this consular process and has pushed for a common Eu-
ropean visa policy. In this respect, the EU policy has made
considerable progress since the 1985 Schengen Agree-
ment and the abolishment of border controls within the
Schengen area. In addition to the Schengen visa, which
is valid for most EU countries, the EU Visa Code has been
in force since April 2010, with binding provisions for is-
suing visas. It also contains rules on how to determine
which member state is in charge of a visa application and
how to process such an application. It is expected that
this harmonization of visa policies and practices will pro-
mote greater transparency. For example, member states
now have to justify why an application is rejected, and
applicants can appeal against negative decisions. Within
Mobility Partnerships, EU member states can offer visa fa-
cilitation, as well as an improvement of consular services.
Waiting times can be shortened and access to the respec-
tive consulate improved. Opening times of the consulates
can be extended, staff capacity strengthened and consul-
ar cooperation deepened. In addition, visa facilitation for
certain occupations or skills can be agreed upon. In con-
trast to the EU Commission, the EU Council has repeatedly
emphasised that visa facilitation should be conditional
upon concluded readmission agreements (conditionali-
ty) although it is now also convinced that certain in-
centives such as legal migration opportunities must be
offered to the partner countries to secure a proper imple-
mentation of the readmission agreements. Nevertheless,
the issue of conditionality is still controversial in the EU
member states. Currently, there is no consensus whether
such conditionality is appropriate and whether it should
relate to labor migration or visa issuing.
These four policy elds (labor migration, migration man-
agement, brain drain, and visa issuing) are at the core
of the Mobility Partnerships. In technical terms, a task
force of representatives from the member states and
the Commission is responsible for the coordination and
evaluation of the Partnerships. Embassies and EU dele-
gations work within the framework of so-called collab-
orative platforms together with partner countries, thus
ensuring the implementation on the ground. The concept
of Mobility Partnerships foresees that the partnerships
will be supported by a system of indicators. This score-
board will contain permanently updated information
on the initiatives, partners, contact points, evaluation
indicators, deadlines, and the funding available. In this
manner, Mobility Partnerships can also be considered as
institutionalized dialogue processes in which objectives,
methods, and reviews must be constantly renegotiated.
Particularly in view of the upheavals in the Arab world,
the Commission emphasized in May 2011 the urgency
of a comprehensive and coherent migration policy and
the establishment of additional Mobility Partnerships,
which led to the partnerships with Morocco and Tunisia
as well as to negotiations with some other countries like
Egypt. But what are the experiences with previous Mo-
bility Partnerships, and what can be concluded for future
A critical review of the experiences with the existing pi-
lot Mobility Partnerships (especially with Armenia, Cape
Verde, Georgia, and Moldova) reveals four main elds
where the EU Commissions strictly positive assessment
of the instrument must be questioned: 1) the selection
of partner countries, 2) the hierarchy of political targets,
3) the content of the partnerships, and 4) monitoring
and evaluation.
According to the Commission, at least three (not exclu-
sive or exhaustive) criteria should be crucial for identify-
ing additional Mobility Partnership countries:
The countries must be a relevant source of migration
to the EU.
They should undertake active cooperation with
the EU.
The participating EU countries must have a genuine
interest and willingness to cooperate with these
In addition, and depending on political realities, there
should be a geographical balance between Southern and
Eastern EU neighboring countries. If any of these criteria
are missing, the Mobility Partnership is not considered
very promising.
In the pilot Mobility Partnerships, these criteria were only
partially fullled. For example, Cape Verde was surely not
a main source country of migration to the EU, and coun-
tries like Ghana were not too interested in establishing
a close migration cooperation with EU member states. A
future selection of partner countries should better com-
ply with these criteria, and additional criteria should be
considered. Special attention, for instance, could be given
to development aspects by selecting partner countries
with a particularly high proportion of young adults with
a good formal education but no prospect of decent em-
ployment in their country.
Another problem has been the frequent lack of clarity in
policy goals on both sides. As far as the partner countries
are concerned, the EU Council decided on Cape Verde,
Georgia, and Moldova without a written declaration of
interest from these countries, and Moldova declared can-
didacy only in a non-paper addressed to the Commission.
The Moroccan case was different as that government
submitted a detailed ofcial statement of interest to
the EU Commission. Obviously, the interests of potential
partner countries were as different as their capabilities
to present a clear statement of interest. Moldova was
mainly interested in development assistance and in get-
ting support for the return of their citizens living in the
EU, whereas Cape Verdes main interest was to achieve
greater mobility for its citizens, in particular through
visa facilitation. Nevertheless, it might be difcult for a
government to dene a clear hierarchy of goals especial-
ly if national migration policies are undergoing general
redenition. Morocco, for example, is currently trying to
develop a comprehensive migration and asylum policy
as it experiences a rapid transition from an emigration
country to a country of transit and immigration.
As for EU countries, they also have had signicant dif-
culties developing a clear common hierarchy of policy
goals. In addition to signicant differences of econom-
ic structures, labor demand, and migration experiences,
the member states have been differently affected by
the economic crisis. While some countries have to cope
with high unemployment rates, others are facing grow-
ing labor shortages. Although all EU member states have
placed particular emphasis on the prevention of irregular
migration, it has remained unclear what importance this
goal should have in comparison with other policy goals
such as labor market and development goals.
In addition, the pilot Partnerships are weak in terms of
content. One of the most obvious advantages of the
Partnerships is their exibility. For example, emphasis
may be placed on programs for legal labor migration as
well as on the reintegration of returning experts. But this
exibility bears the risk that already established cooper-
ation projects are simply relabelled and introduced as
supposedly new activities. This was partly the case in the
pilot Partnerships with Cape Verde and Moldova, leading
to the overall impression that the partnerships did not
offer substantially new opportunities for migration co-
Right from the beginning, a dual coordination process
was foreseen for all Mobility Partnerships: rst, internal
EU coordination by member states and the Commission
in the framework of specic task forces; second, coor-
dination with the partner countries within cooperation
platforms. European embassies and EU delegations
were expected to participate. The work was to be based
on indicators, and outcomes were to be documented
in the form of a scoreboard. This document was to be
updated regularly, with information on the projects,
partner organizations, success indicators, timelines, and
funding instruments. All in all, the scoreboard and the
cooperation schemes are supposed to allow a permanent
and critical review of all activities related to the respec-
tive partnership.
Experience has shown that weaknesses exist in both
spheres of the coordination process. Often, local EU rep-
resentatives did not have sufcient information on the
projects, at least at the beginning of the Mobility Part-
nerships. Moreover, not all EU member states had ap-
propriate personnel in the respective partner country.
Therefore, a lesson learned is that local-level coordina-
tion is easier if existing structures can be used. If such
structures rst have to be set up, additional time and
resources are needed, and it must be ensured that these
resources are provided. Nevertheless, the setting up of a
task force in Moldova is an example that the creation of
new structures can indeed be fostered through a Mobil-
ity Partnership.
This critical assessment of the previous pilot Partner-
ships was conrmed through an internal and public
consultation process, initiated by the EU Commission in
2011, and a conference of pilot and potential partner
countries in June 2012. In addition, these consultations
indicated a certain fear of the partner governments that
Mobility Partnerships would arouse considerable expec-
tations among their citizens. Therefore, another major
lesson learned from this assessment is that the partner-
ships must have positive and visible outcomes for their
citizens. In this regard, many governments see visa fa-
cilitation, legal opportunities for migration, and freedom
of movement as essential features of any Mobility Part-
Despite all criticism, the consultations clearly indicated an
overall positive assessment of the Partnerships. All pilot
project countries emphasized that the partnerships were
helpful to prepare their association to the EU. In addition,
the Eastern European partner countries Moldova, Arme-
nia, Georgia, and Azerbaijan highlighted that the Mobil-
ity Partnership had improved contacts and exchanges
with the EU, deepened knowledge about the functioning
of the Union, and accelerated reforms of national admin-
istration and political institutions. Moreover, the Mobility
Partnerships had strengthened regional cooperation and
increased awareness of the importance of migration for
development. All pilot countries were particularly posi-
tive about the exibility and the adaptability of this in-
strument to their specic needs. In this respect, it was
regarded as very helpful that Mobility Partnerships are
not rigid instruments, but rather living documents.
It must be concluded that the Partnerships despite all
decits have strengthened cooperation in migration
and development affairs at least in a three-fold respect.
First, they have improved the co-operation among EU
countries, in particular through the establishment of
contact points in all relevant institutions, regular prog-
ress reports, and a review of the political priorities of the
member states. Second, forming the EU Task Force and
central points of contact has fostered the cooperation
between the member states and the EU Commission.
Third, the extablishment of local cooperation platforms
and annual Mobility Partnership meetings has intensied
exchanges between the EU Commission and the partner
Undoubtedly, Mobility Partnerships are an important ele-
ment of the external dimension of the European Unions
migration policy. However, to cope with the concepts
overall policy goals and to make the instrument the
key element of future EU migration policy, the develop-
ment impact of the Partnerships in particular must be
strengthened further. In addition, more attention must
be paid to the selection of future partner countries. It is
necessary that these countries have a sufcient and sus-
tained interest in the partnership.
Another major lesson learned from the recent pilot Part-
nership experiences is that the partner countrys interest
in cooperation is low if there are no sufcient incentives,
e.g. migration programs and mobility schemes. General-
ly, the partnerships must be so attractive that proper im-
plementation and sufcient compliance can be expected.
Up to now, EU member states set major obstacles block-
ing a comprehensive policy. Since many member states
are still ghting high unemployment, they are currently
against opening up additional immigration channels. How-
ever, this would be necessary to make Mobility Partner-
ships a tool that links migration and development issues
to a coherent, effective, and pro-development policy.
In addition to these fundamental requirements for future
Mobility Partnerships, some practical aspects must be
considered. The programs must 1) be transparent and
clear, 2) have realistic goals and comply with the inter-
ests of the project partners, 3) have a strong employ-
ment bias, and 4) be planned, monitored, and evaluated
with participation of all stakeholders.
All in all, the experiences with the existing Partnerships
provide some practical recommendations.
A thorough and on-going evaluation of the exis-
ting pilot Partnerships is required. This evaluation
should be conducted by an independent evaluator
and should be incorporated into the biennial repor-
ting on the gamm. A continuous assessment would
allow adjusting the Partnerships to shifting economic
and political conditions.
Better coordination of the EU countries participa-
ting in a given Mobility Partnership is necessary,
particularly including permanent consultation and a
scoreboard with updated information. So far, repor-
ting has often been inadequate. The EU Commission
has repeatedly complained that they do not have a
sufcient overview of the actual course of the various
pilot Partnerships and therefore cannot coordinate
them in a proper manner. On the local level, EU de-
legations should be strengthened in order to be able
to cope with the increasing need of coordinating the
Mobility Partnership activities of the EU member
A better coordination between political stakehol-
ders within the participating eu countries is nee-
ded. Frequent controversies between ministries and
government agencies on their respective roles and
responsibilities prolong the process of formulating
coherent national positions and coordinating at the
EU level. However, this internal consultation is neces-
sary, so enough time should be allowed for this when
negotiating new Mobility Partnerships. Also, the clear
leadership of a national ministry is important for im-
plementing these processes.
It is important to develop more agship pro-
jects, that is, visible and compelling projects that
can provide inspiration for other Mobility Part-
nerships. At the beginning of negotiations with inte-
rested potential partner countries it would be useful
to compile wish lists to make the expectations of
stakeholders as clear as possible. These lists should
contain proposals for projects and programs. Existing
Partnerships often did not adequately develop such
It is necessary that the EU Commission informs the
member states about the requirements for parti-
cipation in a new Mobility Partnership. Without a
strong commitment of the participating EU countries,
Mobility Partnerships will not be successful, and
the same applies to the participation of the partner
states. In addition, when selecting new Partnership
countries, it must be clear that the respective gover-
nment has sufcient interest in the partnership and
is willing and able to properly implement the projects.
Well-equipped EU delegations could help with this.
Finally, sufcient nancing of the Mobility Part-
nerships must be guaranteed by national and eu
funds. This must be considered when deciding on the
size and structure of the EUs nancial instruments.
To conclude, Mobility Partnerships can make a difference
toward a more comprehensive European migration poli-
cy by ensuring greater policy coherence, strengthening
the external dimension of migration policy, supporting
the development of the partner countries, and supplying
EU member states with skilled labor. However, it will be
crucial to create a fair balance of interests between EU
member states, partner countries, and migrants. Mobility
Partnerships should not be exploited to apply pressure
on partner countries to realize readmission agreements,
and there should be no conditionality between migration
programs and readmission agreements, as this would
only reduce the disposition of partner countries to fully
implement the partnerships. Most important is that the
EU member states become seriously engaged and add
concrete and additional projects to the partnerships to
fully exploit the potential of the Mobility Partnerships.
The German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF) strengthens transatlantic cooperation on regional,
national, and global challenges and opportunities in the spirit of the Marshall Plan. GMF does this by sup-
porting individuals and institutions working in the transatlantic sphere, by convening leaders and mem-
bers of the policy and business communities, by contributing research and analysis on transatlantic topics,
and by providing exchange opportunities to foster renewed commitment to the transatlantic relationship.
In addition, GMF supports a number of initiatives to strengthen democracies. Founded in 1972 as a non-partisan,
non-prot organization through a gift from Germany as a permanent memorial to Marshall Plan assistance, GMF
maintains a strong presence on both sides of the Atlantic. In addition to its headquarters in Washington, DC, GMF
has ofces in Berlin, Paris, Brussels, Belgrade, Ankara, Bucharest, Warsaw, and Tunis. GMF also has smaller repre-
sentations in Bratislava, Turin, and Stockholm.
Established in 1964, the Robert Bosch Stiftung GmbH is one of the major German foundations associated with a
private company. It represents the philanthropic and social endeavors of Robert Bosch (1861-1942) and fullls his
legacy in a contemporary manner. The Robert Bosch Stiftung works predominantly in the areas of international
relations, science, health, education, society and culture. Under Migration and Integration, the Robert Bosch
Stiftung supports and develops feasible solutions for living together in a culturally diverse society. Since 2005,
more than 20 million have been spent to achieve this aim.